Adidas is launching a Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) network for student athletes at any NCAA Division I university that is partnered with the athletic brand.
Via the program, which will launch in four phases over the next year, more than 50,000 student-athletes will be eligible to become paid affiliate brand ambassadors with Adidas, regardless of gender. In line with Adidas’ goal to accelerate inclusivity and equality, the program will start with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Power-5 conference partners in fall 2022 and then roll out to other schools through 2023.
“At Adidas, we are committed to creating change through sport and recognize the important role student-athletes play in shaping the future,” said Adidas North American president Rupert Campbell. “Our groundbreaking NIL program advances our commitments toward building inclusivity in sport and inspires athletes to realize a more equitable world. I can’t wait to see it come to life.”
This program builds upon the wave of opportunities that have emerged for student athletes after a new set of state and NCAA rules went into effect in July, which allows college athletes to sell the rights to their NIL. This legislation permits student athletes to profit from their own brands independent from their institutions.
Since the ruling in July, athletes and brands have already jumped at opportunities to cash in.
Twin basketball players Haley and Hanna Cavinder from Frenso State made history as two of the first college athletes to sign deals off their name, image and likeness (NIL) in July, via a partnership with Boost Mobile.
In September, a group of Nike alumnae and other prominent Oregon residents launched Division Street Inc., a new venture to help student athletes at the University of Oregon maximize their branding opportunities. Rosemary St. Clair, a former Nike VP and GM of Nike women, will serve as the CEO of the company, and former Nike VP of sports marketing Rudy Chapa will serve as chairman of the board. Nike co-founder Phil Knight also helped launch the company.
The announcement of Adidas’ NIL program comes close to the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which was passed by Congress in 1972 and protects against sex-based discrimination in education programs or activities. Adidas said its new program is meant to promote fairness and equality in sport.
“Open to all eligible student-athletes regardless of their gender, the Adidas NIL network embodies our belief that sport has the power to change lives by upskilling athletes and giving them the ability to begin to experience an entrepreneurial path that will carry them beyond their college years,” said Jim Murphy, Adidas NCAA program lead.